This week, the Mystery Diner hit up the Bull Moose Bar & Grille in Sandwich, whose location has a rich history in the town going back to the mid-1930s.
Part of the Bull Moose, located at the southeast corner of U.S. Route 34 and South Main Street near downtown Sandwich, is a dining rail car that has been at that location since 1934, according to the restaurant's website.
The rail car was built by the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1893, and was shown at the World's Columbian Exposition, or the World's Fair, in Chicago that year. The dining car was eventually commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt, who used it throughout his presidency and during his campaigns, according to the restaurant.
According to History.com, Roosevelt was campaigning when he was shot by an assassin's bullet on Oct. 14, 1912, in Milwaukee. However, he continued on with a speech he had prepared. When he revealed to a stunned audience that he had been shot prior to the speech, he said, "It takes more than that to kill a bull moose." Roosevelt had been running that year under the Progressive Party, which after that speech was nicknamed the Bull Moose Party. Roosevelt was tough, but lost that year in a four-way race to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
Henry Tattersol bought the diner car at a government auction in 1931 for $75, according to the restaurant, with a vision of using the train car as a diner. The car was moved to its present location in 1934 and was opened as a small diner. In 1977, a full-service restaurant was added to the diner car, the restaurant's website states.
The car was renovated as part of a yearlong project in 2010, the website states, and you can see the beauty in the carved wood and glass displays in the beautiful dining car area of the restaurant. The Bull Moose also has an adjoining dining room and bar area where you can catch your favorite game or drink some cold beverages.
The restaurant has a variety of food choices, including sandwiches and flatbread pizzas, but they are known for their one-half-pound burgers.
You can get the classic no-frills cheeseburger at the Bull Moose, but there are also more creative concoctions, such as the caramel apple burger, voted "best in the Aurora area," the menu claims. That burger comes topped with fresh apples, homemade caramel, Swiss cheese and bacon.
The Mystery Diner and his two companions weren't feeling all that adventurous when we sat down, but the Diner's brother decided to try out the breakfast burger.
The breakfast burger includes a half-pound beef burger, cheddar cheese, a fried egg and bacon, and is finished with hollandaise sauce. I could see this being a brunch favorite. The brother was mighty satisfied.
The Diner's brother's girlfriend got the Bull Moose's chicken pesto sandwich: grilled chicken breast with mozzarella, tomato and a basil pesto on herb focaccia bread. This may have been a "lighter" choice, but it was not light on flavor.
The Mystery Diner chose the Teddy's Choice burger, which comes with cheddar, provolone and American cheeses and bacon on a delicious toasted bun. It was simple but you could tell the beef was high quality. Juicy, delicious and rich.
With any burger or sandwich you get a choice of side, which at the Bull Moose includes French fries, steamed broccoli, homemade apple slaw and homemade kettle chips, or, for an upcharge, onion straws. The evening we visited, asparagus was an option.
Overall, the Bull Moose is a wonderful dining experience, where the dining matches the decor. Teddy would be proud.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.
• • •
If you go
What: Bull Moose Bar & Grille
Where: 202 S. Main St., Sandwich
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday. Food served daily until 10 p.m.
Information: Call 815-786-8002 or visit bullmoosebar.com.